Noise helps spread Covid

A recent report in JASA, the Journal for the Acoustic Society of America for 30 November 2020 confirms earlier findings (see post of 24 June 2020) that increased background noise, especially indoors, helps spread Covid-19. People who raise their voices over loud background noise exhale far more virus-laden particles than people talking softly in quiet places.  ‘Elevated vocal effort has been shown to increase emission of potentially infectious respiratory droplets, which can remain airborne for up to several hours. Multiple confirmed clusters of COVID-19 transmission were associated with settings where elevated vocal effort is generally required for communication, often due to high ambient noise levels, including crowded bars and restaurants… Clusters of COVID-19 transmission have been frequently reported in each of these settings. ‘ The JASA article did not look at the different types of background noise but piped music is often the loudest and most prevalent type of background noise. This finding ties in with the Scottish government’s attempts to get pubs and restaurants to turn off their piped music. As the pandemic has not yet abated, it seems more than ever time to mute the muzac!